Shifting attitudes in the workplace, paired with the rise of digital technology and social networking, have created a perfect environment for the gig economy to grow and thrive.
Although the notion of gig work is nothing new, professionals across the globe are reinvigorating their careers as freelancers. Case in point – in the United States, national statistics recently revealed that the gig economy represents nearly 35 percent of the workforce. That number is expected to rise to nearly 44 percent by 2020.
Despite the growing number of professionals pursuing work in the gig economy, there has been little scientific study into the overall health benefits – or pitfalls – that can come from freelance work. And while this data is not readily available, trends in recent years have begun to show how, at least to some degree, the gig economy can impact a person’s health and wellness.
Health Benefits in the Gig Economy
One of the primary health benefits associated with the gig economy today is the fact that it offers a strong opportunity to achieve work-life balance, something that has become a priority for modern professionals, both young and old alike.
Unlike the traditional working world, the gig economy offers professionals the ability to completely control their schedules while working from any corner of the globe. Not bound by corporate structure, gig economy workers can avoid professional fatigue because they are able to focus more intently on their personal lives, while also maintaining complete control over their work schedule and setting.
Additionally, the ability to hand pick work and clients can help professionals avoid overbearing workloads, which can cause significant stress. This is a key benefit in the freelance industry, considering the negative impact that stress can have on health.
Health-Related Pitfalls in the Gig Economy
Despite the positive impacts that gig work can have on a professional’s health, it’s important to note that there are some factors that can have an adverse effect on health and well being.
There are several areas of concern when it comes to a person’s health in the gig economy. For example, there is growing concern among health experts regarding the effect that isolation can have on a professional. Although isolation is not a factor for every gig worker, many jobs can lack substantial person-to-person contact, creating feelings of loneliness and stress. When this occurs, it can become problematic for a professionals physical and mental wellness.
It’s also important to note that gig workers may not have access to the same type of healthcare, depending on where they reside. In the United States, many professionals receive health insurance through their employer, so gig workers are usually left to purchase their own insurance, which may not provide the same degree of coverage or access to healthcare.
Evaluating the Gig Economy in the Long Term
Regardless of whether or not you are a long-term gig worker, or someone just starting out in the freelance sphere, it’s important to understand the potential health consequences that can come with your career.
While there are naturally positives and negatives with any job, the unique structure of the gig economy means professionals must be keenly aware of the potential benefits and pitfalls in order to achieve health and success.